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Session 192: The Current Dating Landscape

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

Like many things this past year, the experience of dating has looked a lot different and there are many more things to consider. To help us dig a little deeper into the current dating landscape, today we’re joined by Tennesha Wood, who is a dating coach, matchmaker, and founder of The Broom List; the first and only matchmaking firm dedicated to pairing marriage-minded Black professionals. Tennesha and I chatted about how dating has changed during the pandemic, what her work looks like as a matchmaker, suggestions for making your online dating profiles pop, and how to have honest conversations about your relationship expectations.

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Read Full Transcript

Session 192: The Current Dating Landscape

Dr. Joy: Hey y’all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 192 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. Like many things this past year, the experience of dating has looked a lot different and there are many more things to consider. Here’s what a few of our community members had to share about what dating has been like for them:

Comment 1: My experience actually has been pretty great, dating online since the pandemic began. I can’t lie. I actually am in a relationship now and that started at peak Coronavirus back in March and we met on Hinge. I was very cautious, I have an immune disorder and so I didn’t want to meet in person for a very long time. It went from pictures to FaceTime to doing the walks in person and I think that played a big role, too, because there isn’t much to do during Corona. There’s not a lot of distractions and so spending a lot of time just walking around, talking, getting lost in the mountains because we don’t actually know how to hike, really made a difference.

Comment 2: My experience online dating since the pandemic has been... It’s changed. I feel like the pandemic has influenced more of what I’m looking for in a partner. During the pandemic, there’s been an emphasis on a bunch of racial issues, systemic racism in all of us and so I’ve been looking at what their views are towards what’s been happening. And like have they been voting, are they registered to vote? If they’re not registered to vote, maybe because they’re not an American citizen or something *[inaudible 0:03:54] the issues and stuff like that.

Comment 3: For someone that’s pursuing online dating during a pandemic, go into it with the right mindset. I won’t say lower your expectations, but I would say have realistic expectations of what you’re trying to get out of it. Keep your standards the way they are.

Comment 4: For me, I think mindset is important.

Dr. Joy: To help us dig a little deeper into the current dating landscape, today we're joined by Tennesha Wood. Tennesha is a dating coach, matchmaker, and founder of The Broom List, the first and only matchmaking firm dedicated to pairing marriage-minded black professionals. Her mantra is “Know you, be you, love you.” She believes that love starts within. Once you love yourself and embrace authenticity, love will find its way to you. Tennesha shares dating advice to a wide audience on her popular podcast, Dating Relationships and Love or DRL.

Tennesha and I chatted about how dating has changed during the pandemic, what her work looks like as a matchmaker, suggestions for making your online dating profiles pop, and how to have honest conversations about your relationship expectations. She also shares some of her favorite resources, and a special discount code for anyone who might be interested in using her matchmaking services. While enjoying our conversation, be sure to share anything that really resonates with you on social media, using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Tennesha.

Tennesha: Hi, Dr. Joy. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Joy: I'm very excited you were able to come and chat with us and I would love for you to just start by telling us a little bit about you as well as how you got into the work of matchmaking.

Tennesha: My name is Tennesha Wood. I am a dating coach and matchmaker. I've been doing this now full time for about five years and it actually really started very organically. I grew up in Minneapolis and then I moved out to San Francisco for a job back in 2009, and when I got out there, I didn't know anybody at all. And so 2009, if we recall, was still the dark ages of online dating. Meaning people weren't too forthcoming about meeting people online and dating online, it was still sort of a source of embarrassment for some people. But for me, I never took any issue with it and when I got out there, I created a profile.

And I was in my early 20s and so I would tweak my profile and I would notice what type of men I was attracting based on that and so it just sort of became a fun experiment for me. And like I said, I was just exploring, dating, having fun, so I wasn't looking for anything serious at that point. But once I was, again, I changed my profile and then met a boyfriend at the time, met him and then friends would always say to me, “How are you meeting these guys?” I'm like, oh, online, like let me show you how to do it.

And so I started doing profiles for friends and then from there, they were sending me their friends’ profiles, and at a certain point I said I should get paid for this. So that's how I really... I spun that. And then I stayed in a sales career for several years after that and then finally, about five years ago, I just said, you know what, this is truly what I feel like I'm called to do. Like I said, I'd been matching friends and doing their profiles, and I decided to start my own company five years ago doing it.

Dr. Joy: Nice. Yeah, and in Session 185 of the podcast, we talked about just single life during the pandemic, so I am sure that much of your work has shifted as have many things in the world. And so I am curious to hear about like what kinds of things are your clients talking about? Like what does dating even look like right now?

Tennesha: You know, I was actually really surprised at the beginning of the pandemic because, in my mind, I thought this is not something that people are going to spend money on right now. My business will be severely impacted, that's the idea I had going into the pandemic. But as things went on, I actually started to work with more people and get more clients because I think people really, probably for the first time, sat down by themselves and thought: “I don't want this life going forward. I don't know that I want to spend this much time alone.”

As a person myself who very much values alone time, I very much value solitude, even for me, having a boyfriend... The times, you know, just being there all alone the entire time, I'm like, wow, we really do need people. Like, I'm so glad you're here with me but I also miss my family, I also miss my friends. I miss those interactions.

So I think what the pandemic did was really force people to realize, hey, do I truly want to do this alone forever? And for most people the answer was no and so they sought out services like mine. We saw a huge skyrocket in online dating, the amount of messages that were being sent, the amount of people that were signing up and using video dating features and things like that.

Dr. Joy: Can you talk a little bit about the technology? And maybe I know like there are the standard apps and stuff like that, but like, what is your work looking like now in terms of matchmaking in the virtual world?

Tennesha: Yeah, so a lot of my clients have become really open to dating outside of their geographic area. People that are in New York are like, yeah, I'm fine dating somebody in Atlanta or DC or wherever, because now they have the flexibility to really be anywhere. So it's not a matter of, okay, if things work out with this person, I can just see them on the weekends when I'm not working. People are able to travel and work elsewhere so I am seeing a lot more openness with that.

I'm also seeing people becoming more open to the idea of I can meet somebody virtually, whether that be through me or on an app, and create a relationship and fall in love. And it doesn't take anything away from us as a couple or this relationship because we haven't had those in-person interactions. I think just people have become a lot more open to the idea of it's not about how you meet somebody but about the connection that you truly share together.

Dr. Joy: Hmm. Did you feel like heading into the pandemic there was still a lot of stigma related to meeting online or was that kind of gone anyway?

Tennesha: I think most of the stigma was gone but I will say that what I think was still there was this lack of seriousness. So I think that people didn't always take online dating seriously. They might have seen it as: “I might meet somebody there, we'll go out on a couple of dates.” But you know, I often heard a lot of people say I know you can meet your husband or wife online but that's probably not how it's gonna happen for me. There was a sort of idea that it would probably happen in other ways, but not online. But I think people are much more open now to saying, yeah, I can meet my husband and wife here, I can fall in love truly with a person I may have never met in person. It actually sort of happened that way for me.

Dr. Joy: Okay.

Tennesha: When I first met my boyfriend, he slid into my DM on Instagram and it was a time in my life where I was having a lot of transitions. Like I mentioned before, I had left a full-time career to start my own thing and it was right around that time. And before I did all that, I’d decided that I was going to take a trip around the world for two months. So, he slid into my DM, I said thanks but no thanks and then he was very persistent and so we actually ended up meeting right before my trip. We went and had a coffee and, you know, at that point I still thought not really for me and I'm really focused on doing me right now on this trip I have to take, and getting everything ready for that.

And so he said, hey, do me a favor and let me know all the places that you're going. Like, send me a list of everywhere that you're going. So I sent him a list not really thinking anything of it and then he says, “You know, I want to introduce you to some friends that I have in Paris and also a really good friend that I have in Madrid.” And again, people say stuff like that like, “Oh, I'll connect you.” And I was like, yeah, okay, cool. So when I got to Paris, he introduced me to two really amazing black women that he went to Howard with and he was just like, “I just knew you were gonna like them,” and I hit it off with them. Then when I got to Spain, a good friend that he had there, him and his wife took me out for my birthday.

And so I started meeting all these people through him, and I didn't even really know him yet. So that really prompted me to communicate with him more and then we ended up talking every single day that I was gone. And then by the time that I got home we were together and then we moved in together a month later. And that was three years ago.

Dr. Joy: Wow, what a cool story! I feel like this is something that is gonna give people that boost they need to maybe check their other messages folder on Instagram, right? Because we talk a lot about like the traditional dating apps like Match and Tinder and all of those things, but I honestly feel like places like Instagram and Twitter are actually really great places to kind of get to know more about people that maybe you wouldn’t even share on a dating app.

Tennesha: Oh, totally because, I mean, you can explore–and by explore I mean stalk. You can literally explore someone's whole life and there's so much for you to go off of on their pages and in their profiles that can easily prompt a conversation or a message. I mean, that could start as easily as saying something like, oh, you know, I saw that you went to Madrid last year. You know, I went and I'm so glad they have the siestas after all the amazing meals I was eating. What was your favorite part? Like, it just gives you so much rich information to start a rich conversation. And I say rich conversation very intentionally–do not slide into anybody's DM and just say hi. Have something to say.

Dr. Joy: Oh? So can you give us more pointers about how you start a rich conversation?

Tennesha: Yeah. Don't approach anybody that you're not actually interested in. If you just find somebody attractive but there's not much more beyond that that you find that you like about them or that you're sharing with them, just let that one go. But if it is somebody that you actually have an interest in and you see that you guys have things in common, focus on those commonalities. You know, I gave the example of Madrid but that could be anything from the city you live in to pets you have to life goals that are mentioned in your page.

I mean, people really do give a whole lot of personal information out about themselves and about what they're thinking and about what they're doing, so there's really a lot to say. So don't miss the opportunity by being generic, bland, and seeming like you're not actually interested. Like if you're actually interested in a person, there is so much more to say than “hi.” So start with something that you guys have in common, tell them exactly what it is that interested you about them and also be clear about why you're reaching out.

You know, you don't want somebody to take this as, oh, is this like a business connection? Is that why they're reaching out? You want somebody to be clear. I mean, don't go over the top and overboard saying something like, “Oh, I thought you would be a great boyfriend. So here I am.” I mean, keep it light but you could ask something like, “Oh, are you dating anybody?” After you've established a connection, then ask that upfront.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah, having that conversation sooner than later.

Tennesha: Right.

Dr. Joy: More from Tennesha after this quick break.


Dr. Joy: For the more traditional dating apps, because I know you've already mentioned that this is something that you help your clients to do, what are some of the do's and don'ts or things that you find work really well for people when they're sharing things like on their dating profiles?

Tennesha: First thing is be authentic, so show the best version of yourself but also the most authentic version of yourself. And so be clear about who you are, what you're looking for, and what brings you joy. So when I say who you are, who you are isn't just defined by “Here's what I do for work. I'm a sales manager. I'm a matchmaker.” Like, that's what you do but who are you? What kind of person are you? How do your friends describe you? How would your mother describe you? How do you describe you? So that really stands out because, believe it or not, a lot of people don't do that. A lot of people immediately lean on the work crutch. So I say focus on who you are at heart.

Focus on what you want... So be clear in your profile that you are in fact looking for a long-term relationship or a friendship or something serious or something casual, whatever it is that you're looking for, because it's just going to take away so much confusion on the back end. And I think sometimes people are scared to say that upfront when they're looking for something serious or a serious relationship because they think, well, I don't want to scare people off. You will scare people off and that's okay. Those aren't your people. So that's fine if they are scared off by you wanting something serious and you being confident enough to state that up front. Scare those people off that don't want that. That'll save you the time.

And a big tip I always give women in particular is to include the type of man that you want in your profile. For example, I would like a confident man that makes me feel safe. Essentially, you are telling the men that look at your profile, “If you are this, come my way. If you are not, keep swiping,” without being negative. Another tip that that brings me to: avoid all negativity in your profile. So don't talk about the things that you don't want, don't say I don't want a cheater, I don't want a man with baggage, I don't want... Like, let's not bring negative energy into it at all. Focus on the positive. Because when people see things like that, you're ultimately going to attract negative people. Like the people that are going to be attracted to all the negative talk are negative people.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah. And I think if I were reading something like that in a dating profile, it would make me question like, are you actually ready to date? Because it feels like, to me, there's still something you need to work through around whoever else you've dated, that you're leading with who I don't want.

Tennesha: Yeah. Like you know exactly what somebody has been through when they say I don't want this, I don't want that. Like nobody writes in their profile “I don't want to be with a serial killer,” duh! *[Inaudible 0:19:49] to write that.

Dr. Joy: I'm curious to know more about how the process works to work with a matchmaker. You know, with the traditional dating apps, it is much more self-led. But I'm assuming that with a matchmaker, more of the work is you kind of like screening your clients for maybe who you have in your database (for a lack of a better word) to see who might be a good match. Can you tell me a little bit more about that process?

Tennesha: Yeah. It's a very intensive process. The screening process really focuses on understanding the readiness part. I typically do a video interview with clients that's about an hour and a half to two hours. And in that interview, I'm asking questions like: Have you been to therapy? What did you get out of that experience? Do you have any unhealed trauma that you're still working on? How do you believe that finances should be split? Who pays for a first date? What's your relationship like with your family?

What I'm really trying to garner from all these questions is “How emotionally mature and ready are you?” Because I look at it like I could match you with the absolute perfect person for you, it could be amazing, but there's going to be a problem at some point and are you ready? And do you have the emotional maturity and the skill set to work through those issues when they arise? So that's really what I'm checking for there.

Dr. Joy: Got it, got it. So I know in your work you talk a lot about attracting and keeping a high-value partner; can you tell me more about what that means?

Tennesha: Yeah. I think the absolute best way to attract and keep a high-value partner is valuing yourself, so that is step one. How I look at it is how you value and treat yourself is how a partner will value and treat you. If you come into the relationship confident in who you are and you are upfront about your needs and how you want and need to be treated, a partner is going to reciprocate that. I think people mirror what we have going on, on the inside. So if I come into a relationship and a situation just unsure of myself, lacking the confidence in who I am and my ability to bring value to a partnership, that's going to show. Like that's the energy I'm putting out there and that's going to be reflected right back to me. In not only my romantic relationships, but friendships, work relationships, all sorts of it. So I think attracting a high-value partner means seeing yourself in that way first and acting accordingly.

I don't know. It always seems like black women are expected to settle for potential and expected to be okay with not having a partner that brings as much to the table as they do. You are allowed to ask for that and I don't want anybody to feel any way about asking for all the things that they bring to the table. Again, your high value is you–however you see yourself and wherever you see your value. You are allowed to ask for that.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. I'm wondering, are there any exercises that our community could do or that maybe you do with your potential clients that help them to find their personal values and how that might work in a relationship?

Tennesha: Yeah. One of the things that I love doing is I love writing letters and I think it's so important just to sit with your thoughts in an honest way. And so I have my clients write a letter to the universe, describing who they are and the type of life that they want and the type of partner that they want. I encourage them not to focus on, you know, the six foot, the six pack or the six figure, but really ask yourself–again, with what I said before–how do you want to feel when you wake up next to this person in the morning? What types of qualities do they need to have to bring you what you need? Do they need to be a joyous person? Do they need to be an intellectual person? Like, who do they need to value and what do they need to value? So really, again, focus on the feeling that you want when you are with your partner.

Dr. Joy: Yeah and, you know, several times in this conversation, you have kind of referred to like there is some work that you sometimes have to do to be ready to kind of make space for a relationship, right? And so I'm wondering, what kinds of things frequently come up for your clients around maybe self-work that they need to engage in before they actually are ready for the dating process?

Tennesha: A lot of it is really like loving yourself. Like a lot of it I find is scars from old relationships that have left us feeling broken or that we are not worthy and then therefore, we lose trust in our ability to choose the right partner. And we also sometimes feel like maybe we don't deserve the right partner, based on what happened in the past. So a lot of the times with my clients, we'll do exercises where we're understanding what those roadblocks are.

Sometimes the roadblock isn't your last relationship that ended badly. Sometimes we like peel back the onion and dig and dig and dig in order to find the source of that issue. And, you know, I am not a therapist and so whenever it gets to a place where I feel like there is deep-seated trauma in there that people need to work through, I always recommend that they seek the advice and counsel of a therapist. But for my role, I do try to help them at least understand what those roadblocks are and where they're coming from because I think once you identify the source of it, you can move forward, understanding the source of where that harm might have actually come from.

Dr. Joy: More from Tennesha after this quick break.


Dr. Joy: You mentioned that in your matchmaking work, you don't work with anybody, typically, under the age of 28. I'm wondering if there are differences that you've seen kind of depending on the age in terms of what people are looking at. And like what kinds of expectations they maybe should even have, depending on their age.

Tennesha: Well, I don't work with people under 28 because I don't think anybody should be married before 30 but that's a personal philosophy. I have seen way too many situations where people have gotten married too young before they really knew themselves and what they wanted out of life and then the situation didn't end well. So I like for people to be at a place where they've lived enough life to say, “Okay, I know exactly who I am and I know exactly who I want,” before committing to a lifetime partnership. The human brain doesn't actually finish developing until around age 26 (maybe later for some people) and so if you're going to make a lifelong decision, I want you to have a fully formed brain when making that decision.

Dr. Joy: What are your suggestions for what our community members in their 20s should be doing to kind of really get to know themselves and ground themselves?

Tennesha: Yeah, I think in your 20s it's really the time to explore. Like your 20s are a good time to go out with different types of people. To try to figure out: Okay, what did I like about that guy? What did I like about that woman? What did I like about that interaction? What didn't I like? But really using that time to dissect exactly what you prefer and what you don't.

Oh, man, I really do miss dating in my 20s! It was a really fun time for me. Like, through going out with so many different guys, I really understood myself. You know, I really was observing certain qualities, like I was observing how I was reacting to these men. Like, sometimes I'd feel just really comfortable and I'm laughing and just feeling at ease and I would say, well, what was it about him that made me feel like that? What specifically did he do? What was that quality? And then when I wasn't feeling that way, when I was feeling like, “Argh, there's something about this guy. I don't really like him, I don't want him touching me,” like what qualities we're producing that sort of reaction? So just really being aware and intentional.

Because I think that one of the things that we're really good at is planning for certain life events. So, you know, we'll say, okay, I want this job or this position at my company. Okay, well, let me think about all the qualifications or certifications or whatever it might be that I need to get there. Okay, cool. Let me get that done. Or I really want this education, okay, well, how much is it gonna cost me? We are so good at planning certain things but when it comes to relationships and love, I don't think we plan enough. I think that we sort of just expect it to happen. We sort of expect to walk outside one day and in a very serendipitous way, you know, meet the man of our dreams. And it doesn't happen that way.

You know, I think it happens that way in Disney quite often but in real life it does take planning. Like, think about what you really need and plan for that. So whether that plan be talking to friends about what you want and letting them know you're looking, or dating online and creating a profile that really attracts that type of man, or working with a matchmaker to help vet candidates for you and to coach you. All of it, regardless of how you get there, get there intentionally and with a plan.

Dr. Joy: So the plan, it sounds like, looks like you being just very active in the process as opposed to the serendipity that Disney has kind of told us is how you fall in love.

Tennesha: Right. And then even after you meet somebody, the work doesn't end there. In fact, that's really where the work begins. Like, again, liking somebody and somebody liking you is not enough to sustain a healthy relationship. You need to be comfortable having certain conversations early and upfront so that people understand your expectations and what you need out of that partnership.

Dr. Joy: You mentioned the importance of communicating expectations either very early in the dating process or even, you know, once you are like in a more committed relationship. And I know that this is something that people typically struggle with, like just kind of feeling like, “Oh, am I doing too much by communicating these things?” But we know that the only way that you have a good chance of getting your expectations met is by letting people know that you have them.

Tennesha: Exactly. That's the thing. I think we view these things as people are going to think, oh, we're overbearing, oh, we're asking for too much. But in fact, it does the opposite. It lets a person know, “Hey, I know myself, and I value myself and I value my needs so you should, too. Here are some of my needs.” And again, it's all about how you say it. For example, some people are the type of people where they want you to communicate with them often throughout the day. Like they want to talk to their partner multiple times throughout the day. That's just an easy conversation in the beginning.

You know, if you notice that your partner is not doing that and that's something that you need, say, “Hey, you know, I know we don't talk very often throughout the day,” or “You know, you don't text me when you're at work but it really means a lot to me just to like have that communication. For me to hear about your day and check in with you. And I love hearing from you, it puts a smile on my face. So like I would love it if we could communicate more during the day.” Like simple, right? Like it's all about how you say it, not what you say.

And if you have a loving partner, they will... I'm not gonna say they're always gonna comply with exactly what you say and now they're gonna text you every day at lunch. Like no, but what a healthy relationship will do is have a conversation about that. So maybe that conversation is, “Hey, yeah, I know you like that but like the thing is I just get so busy during these hours and it's like almost impossible for me to text.” Okay, well, how about first thing when I get home, we always have 20 minutes together, just our time? Communication and compromise, like that’s what it's all about.

You have to be in a relationship where you're comfortable having these conversations. And if you're truly not, so if you're with somebody and you're like, “Oh, man, I don't want to tell him that I want him to communicate with me more during the day,” or whatever the issue might be, ask yourself why I’m so apprehensive about communicating my needs to this person. Is it because I feel like my needs are off base or wrong or unwarranted? Is it because I feel like this person will be upset or just not listen? Whatever it might be, ask yourself the question behind the question. Why am I feeling the way I'm feeling? If I am unable to communicate with my partner, why is that? Is it something they are doing to make me feel like this? Is it something I am doing? Don't I think what I'm asking for is valuable? Like ask yourself these questions.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. Because I do think that those are some of the things we bring into a relationship and maybe something that you don't even have insight in until you find yourself doing it. And it's like, oh, I'm really kind of minimizing my needs here. Like, where did that come from? Especially if it's a newer behavior. You know, it could be something that is typically not you but it's something about this dynamic that is causing you to react in that way.

Tennesha: Yeah, for me personally, like, I've had to work through the idea of asking for help and I've had to work on it very intentionally, because it's just something that I've always struggled with. Like, I've always had this idea in my head since I was a child, and probably from some things in my childhood, that like, oh, you know what, you’ve got to do it yourself. If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. You have to be independent, you don't ask for help, like, all of that, right? And I held that with such pride for a very long time.

Like, I love telling a man, “Oh, I want you but I don't need you.” Like that was my favorite thing to tell any man and I couldn't wait to say it. “I can do everything on my own. You're actually... You're here, but I don't need you. I want you.” And in my relationship now, that's something that my boyfriend is very aware of and he calls me on frequently. He’ll often say to me, “Why did you do that on your own? Why didn't you just ask me for help?” And I was like, oh, well, in the moment it was easier, bla bla bla... You know?

No. Like, because I have been doing that for so long, it comes so naturally for me just not to ask for help and he has made me aware of how he feels when I don't ask for help. He feels like oh, I don't want him to help, he is not necessary and all of that. And so it's something that I have to be very intentional about. You know, when I think, oh, just do it yourself, I honestly do ask myself, “Is this something that Chris can help with? Is this something he’d probably want to help with?” And then I enlist his help all the time now. But again, very intentionally. I have to work on that.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. Yeah. So we know that not every relationship lasts and I think that this is something that has happened. We've had quite a few conversations in the community around like breakups and like getting back out there. And so can you speak to maybe some suggestions or things people want to kind of keep in mind if they are kind of back in the dating scene again after maybe coming out of a long relationship?

Tennesha: Yeah. First thing is don't get into a new relationship before you've healed from the old relationship because you don't want to bring that old baggage into the new thing. So really understand why the breakup happened, what your role in it was, and what you'd want to do different in the next relationship. So once you're clear on what it was and your role in it, then when you move into a new relationship, you also have to make sure that you've built your trust back up with yourself.

Oftentimes, we lose our trust in ourselves because maybe we chose wrong the last time, you know. Maybe I chose a guy and then I realized he was completely different than who I thought he was and now I question my own ability to choose the right partner. And then I get into a relationship with somebody and I'm constantly thinking, oh, is he going to do this like the last person? Do I got to watch him, like? So make sure that you have in fact gotten over the last relationship and you've taken the time to build your trust back up with yourself so that you know that you're now in something new for the right reasons.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I think that that's a really important part of it because it is important, for all of the reasons we've talked about today, to really be able to trust your own judgment.

Tennesha: Right. 100%. Like that's such a big part of it. That's a huge part of dating, is just having the certainty and like go with your gut. Like, listen to your gut. Like don't question that. I think we'll often logic our way out of just listening to our bodies and ourselves, you know. It's like, well, there's just something about the situation that I don't know, it just doesn't feel right. And then we go back to: But he's such a nice guy and, you know, he has a good job and he has good friends and, you know, yeah, the rest all works, whatever. And it's like, no, nothing can happen if your gut isn't on board. Like, listen to that, listen to that. Like you feel it in your body, this voice in your head, so always trust yourself first. Trust your gut and listen to yourself and your body.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, very important. Something else that I think has been a hot topic recently and I am sure you have been aware of this as it's your field, it feels like there is often lots of conversation around these “male dating gurus.” And it feels like there is a particular emphasis on black men giving dating and love advice to black women in ways that, frankly, I find incredibly harmful and predatory because it feels like often the advice is something about being wrong with you. Like there's something about you that you need to fix. And so I'm curious to just hear about any feedback that you have from people who may be, you know, watching these videos or signing up for courses or workshops. Like what kinds of things should people be considering when they're thinking about finding somebody to maybe give them dating advice?

Tennesha: Dr. Joy, I'm right there with you. Sometimes I see those videos and I cringe. Like sometimes I just... I cringe. I would say, always be aware of the source of the information. You could find just about anything on Google but it may or may not be true. It depends on the source. So, you know, sometimes with some of these dating experts, like the male ones that are giving advice to women, sometimes it feels extremely misogynistic to me. And it does come from a place of, like you said, there's something wrong with you and it sometimes feels like there's no ownership or responsibility for both sides.

Like no one person is ever always wrong. You're never always wrong and you're never always right; the truth is generally somewhere in the middle. So I would just encourage people to be very aware of the source and, again, not only be aware of the source but like what is the source’s motivation for the information? What is the source’s situation? So take it with a grain of salt.

Dr. Joy: I'd love to know if there are any resources that you find yourself recommending frequently, any books, podcasts, movies, anything that you find yourself suggesting to clients?

Tennesha: Yeah, so a couple of my favorite books are... Well, The 5 Love Languages, I think that's always important to just know your love language when going into a relationship and being able to share that with your partner. Another book I really like is Attached to figure out what your attachment style is. And I also really like Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. And so, yeah, those are some of my favorites.

There's a couple of different games that I like to play, like the card games. There's one by the Gottman Institute that are called Gottman cards, but they have various questions at different levels of a relationship. Some are, you know, very casual and just ask like basic sort of questions. Some go a little bit deeper and ask about specific needs and things like that. But I think these are always fun to do because it’s under the guise of a game, but it's also very revealing and an easy way to get to know somebody without... Again, you know, if you're feeling like “I don't want to ask those types of questions,” you pose it as a “let's play this fun game.” And then you're learning a lot more about them and diving into their personality and figuring out if you guys are in fact compatible.

Dr. Joy: Nice. Yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of these suggestions. These are all things that lots of the guests on podcasts have talked about before. And definitely with the Gottman cards, those are great for a very... It feels very unassuming, but you actually get some really, really great conversation out of those kinds of topics.

Tennesha: Right, exactly.

Dr. Joy: Tennesha, can you tell us where we can find you for anybody who maybe wants to use your services, so your website as well as any social media handles you'd like to share?

Tennesha: Yeah, so my website is and my Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all that is @TenneshaWood as well. And I also do have a podcast about dating and relationships and love called DRL Podcast, so that's on my website as well. And I would like to offer to the listeners a 20% discount on my matchmaking services, if they enter in a form that they heard about The Broom List on Therapy for Black Girls.

Dr. Joy: Perfect. We will include all of that in the show notes for anybody who wants to look into that and hopefully connect with you for your services. Thank you so much for offering that for the community.

Tennesha: Awesome. Thank you.

Dr. Joy: Perfect. Yeah, that would be great. People love a discount code. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of this with us, Tennesha. I really appreciate it.

Tennesha: Thank you so much for having me. This was really great. I was super excited to be here so I appreciate that.

Dr. Joy: I’m so glad Tennesha was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work or to grab that discount code, be sure to visit the show notes at 192. And please text two sisters right now and tell them to check out the episode.

If you’re looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at If you want to continue digging into this topic and connect with some other sisters in your area, come on over and join us in the Yellow Couch Collective where we take a deeper dive into the topics from the podcast, and just about everything else. You can join as at Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all, real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here